Israeli firm Cellebrite reportedly helping FBI unlock San Bernardino iPhone

Israel's Cellebrite is reportedly the company aiding the FBI in unlocking the iPhone 5c of the San Bernardino shooter, which has been at the center of a public fight over encryption between the Bureau and Apple. Cellebrite is a provider of mobile forensics software, which it provides to law enforcement, military, and intelligence entities.

From VentureBeat:

Israel's Cellebrite, a provider of mobile forensic software, is helping the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's attempt to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Wednesday. If Cellebrite succeeds, then the FBI will no longer need the help of Apple Inc, the Israeli daily said, citing unnamed industry sources.

No details have been publicized about the method that Cellebrite is supposedly using to extract data from the phone.

The FBI and Apple were scheduled to face off in court earlier this week, but the FBI requested a delay after announcing that an unnamed third-party had offered to help open the phone. The Bureau has until April 5 to file a status report on its progress.

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.

19 Comments
  • You can bet Apple will try to find the info and fix it very quickly.
  • If they are able to get into the phone that would mean there is a vulnerability to exploit. I don't imagine Apple would like this very much.
  • I do not understand this. Why is it the FBI is not getting a warrant to have Apple open the phone. Isn't that the legal way? Is it even legal for the FBI to break into a phone? I really do not understand. If it is not legal why is the Justice department letting them do this. Is the no more rule of law anymore? Sent from the iMore App
  • you are correct in that "I really do not understand. " You don't!
  • If they have a warrant, they can break in using whatever means they have at their disposal. Look at it this way. Suppose you lock your house, and the police have a search warrant. Do they need to go to the company that makes the locks on your doors and request a key? No, they can pick the lock, kick down the door, etc. Whatever way gets them in.
  • Good analogy with a minor update. Given that the City of San Bernadino OWNS the iPhone in question and given that they have granted permission for the FBI to access it pursuant to a terrorism investigation, how about we look at it this way... Suppose you lock your house, and there is a fire and you call the fire department. Do they need to go to the company that makes the locks on your doors and request a key? No, they can pick the lock, kick down the door, etc. Whatever way gets them in. In this analogy, the warrant/court order is only necessary because the fire department is (was?) trying to force Apple to make a battering ram that would make it easier/possible for the door to be kicked in.
  • Even better analogy would be for a criminal to keep his stolen goods in a safe manufactured by a company that does't build a backdoor access to it. The police gets the warrant from a judge to open that safe with any means necessary, but police goes to the manufacturer to build them a universal key to open that safe and any safe that they build from now on.
  • Has to add that the manufacturer refuse to comply to the rule of law. If American is a land of law. And the manufacturer refuse to follow the court order to help the authorities to carry out their duty. Shouldn't that itself is a crime? Posted from my Samsung Galaxy S6
  • That would only be the case of if the manufacturer refused after exhausting all legal options it had, in other words, appealing all the way up to the SCOTUS. Refusing then would be criminal, and likely not something Apple would do.
  • Boy, you are far, far behind on this. The FBI DID get a court order, way back in mid-February, ordering Apple to help unlock the phone so it could be searched. Apple has been challenging that order ever since. As for whether it is legal for the FBI to break into the phone, it was owned by the County of San Bernardino, and they consented to the search, so the FBI can do whatever they want to the phone.
  • Israel, huh? Figures.
  • I know, I know... some of the finest, brightest, most courageous people on the planet.
    Don't you think?
  • True, there are some fine, bright, and courageous people in Israel. Unfortunately, they have to live with a murderous, oppressive, non-democratic apartheid regime that is one of the main causes of the turmoil in the Mideast.
  • yeah, they have to live with a number of "murderous..." regimes in the area
  • Yes, they've always led by example.
  • **** israel Sent from the iMore App
  • Never mind... not much thinking done here ever...
  • Not surprised that its from Israel. #TeamSpaceGray 6sPlus
  • me neither!